Attention All Defenders and Coalition Organizations: The following E-Mail was sent to Eric Spitz. Eric is the vice president of all the sports stations including the one in Chicago. Please be polite and firm in your comments to him. firstname.lastname@example.org
Fed Up with the Barrage of Italian American Stereotypes? Fight Back and Join the Italian American One Voice Coalition!
January is membership month
If you are fed up with the non-stop barrage of negative portrayals and stereotypes of Italian Americans in today’s mass media, there is an organization you can join…. an organization whose sole mission is to combat bias and the denigration of Italian Americans and secure positive representation: The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition (IAOVC).
Louisiana food truck is introducing an offensive ethnic slur to a new generation and they don’t care. Enraged and offended Italian Americans have stormed the Facebook page of the “Wop Wagon.”
As the IAOVC has become more active and more vocal about anti Italian American defamation and discrimination, we have also been faced with responding to blatantly racist and ignorant attacks. As the organization became larger and the need to put our message out to the public became clearer, we created a Facebook page. Now into its third year, our Facebook page has over five thousand followers, but not all of them “friends”. In fact some of them can be outright vicious in their racist ranting. Others appear to be quite naïve and gullible, expressing sentiments that clearly demonstrate that their thoughts have been formed by exposure to the constant drumbeat of negative images of Italian Americans delivered daily by the larger media. Some of these non “friends” are also Italian Americans.
The Italian American One Voice Coalition (IAOVC), an anti-defamation group that includes multiple Italian American organizations, expressed dismay and disgust with the airing of the recent AFLAC commercial, depicting the kidnapping of the iconic AFLAC Duck by characters that are clearly meant to portray Italian Americans in a bad light.
The Italian American One Voice Coalition (IAOVC), introduced to the readers of The Italian Tribune in past few editions, is praising New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo for supporting the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) decision to ban a food truck with the outrageously offensive name: “The Wandering Dago,” and supporting the NYRA decision to re-enforce the ban in court.
Movie actors Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone, along with John Goodman took time out to trash Italian Americans –and Christmas–on last week’s Saturday Night Live. In their feeble attempt to portray the Three Wise Men they called themselves the “Three Wise Guys” in a typical stereotype of Italian American mobsters from New York and New Jersey.
Since the debut of Mario Puzo’s “Godfather” movie more than 40 years ago, Italian Americans have been fighting an uphill battle for positive representation in mass media, especially including television and film productions. For many years after “Godfather,” there was rarely, if ever, a positive non-stereotypical portrayal of an Italian American on television or in a film production, as the defamation of Italian Americans became big business—think “Good Fellas,” “Sopranos,” and to a lesser extent shows like “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and even “Friends.”
By Corrado Gigante, Retired Director, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Board Member IAOVC
In my last column, I wrote about the experiences of two Italian American women working in an American Legion hall in Rhode Island. They experienced ethnic and sexual harassment clearly directed at them by words and deeds. Yet, in many instances of discrimination, the language used is not so clear and overt, since it is often subtle, couched in ways to hide the malicious intent. Let me share with you once such example that many of you are already familiar with. Leave With Out Pay (LWOP) is a commonly used acronym in the field of human resources and payroll administration for recording leave used by an employee when that individual employee has insufficient leave time available. On its face it is a neutral term, but in fact it has been the source of harassment charges filed by individuals and groups. A very small number of employers however use only With Out Pay (WOP).